Robert Parker, who owns luxury country house hotels, is setting the standard in farm-to-fork produce by supplying his six hotels with chef-selected cuts of beef direct from the pedigree Hereford herd on his own farm.
Guests at the Robert Parker Collection of hotels in Northumberland, Cumbria and Southern Scotland enjoy beef from the Tedsmore herd, which is farmed on Mr Parker’s Tedsmore Estate in Shropshire, in a share farming agreement with Haydn and Emma Jones.
Providing complete traceability, the beef is also specially selected by the chefs at each hotel to suit their menus, from Hereford beef sausages for breakfast, to sirloin steak dinners, and as the key element of their speciality creations.
The 32-strong Tedsmore Hereford herd was established in 2007 on the Tedsmore Estate Farm, a 200-acre traditional Shropshire farm that also runs 250-300 Welsh Mule breeding ewes. The pedigree herd are supplying 12 cattle to Mr Parker’s hotels this year, and the remainder to a leading supermarket, providing traceable, assured beef accordance with its high quality and animal welfare standards.
Mr Jones, who farms in Partnership with Robert Parker, said: “All the cattle are grass fed. Any forage and silage in the winter is produced on the farm and stock are out all year round. This really is naturally produced beef at its best.
“We established the herd with 17 pedigree Herefords, and in the main we now keep the heifers to grow the herd and replace those that have entered the food chain. If required we buy in stock bulls, always looking for one which has strong motherly instincts.
“This is traceability at its very best; you can up pinpoint exactly where it is from, where it is going and what it is being used for. The hotels and guests quite literally couldn’t get any better beef.”
One of the oldest recorded native cattle breeds, Herefords are now farmed in more than 50 countries worldwide. Known for their white faces and red-brown coats, they are renowned for their docile temperaments and their quality meat. Grass-fed Herefords produce a marbled beef with a distinctive flavour, which sells for a premium through branded programmes such as the Waitrose Scheme, which was launched in the 1990s.
Mr Jones said: “This is natural, slow-maturing beef. We calve in the spring and sell after 24 months of age, when the animal has reached its optimum carcass weight.”
Beef from the Tesdmore herd is hung for 28 days and butchered by Rikki Lloyd in Welshpool, directly to the specifications of chefs working at the Robert Parker Collection – Doxford Hall, Guyzance Hall and Eshott Hall in Northumberland; Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh; Ednam House in the Scottish Borders; and the Wordsworth Hotel in the Lake District.
The hotels range from spas and wedding venues to private and boutique sites, and each makes different demands on the Tedsmore herd. Once butchered, the cuts are sent directly to each hotel.
Michael Thorpe, head chef at, Doxford Hall, said: “We use the beef sausages for breakfasts, whole carved sirloin for larger parties and fillet steaks with a caramelised onion, and butter kale risotto with a port wine jus on our a la carte menus.
“The traceability from the herd at Tedsmore, to the butcher and then to us at the hotel is so important to customers. You cannot get better than this – this is field to fork at its very best. For me, if it goes straight into an anonymous food chain, it’s not the same thing at all.”
For Tedsmore farmer Haydn Jones, it’s a satisfying link-up that makes all his hard work worthwhile.
“It’s the ultimate for any farmer,” he said. “I’m delighted that it’s something quite unique that Robert and I can offer to the guests at the Robert Parker Collection of hotels.”
Tedsmore Farm Estate Hereford Beef is a seasonal product that is available from June.